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This lesson was actually a breakout session at summer camp. The children would have discussed the story a bit more in small groups before they came to me for the drama workshop. We had an hour and a half for this lesson, one of the goals of which was to present a rather unpolished performance for the rest of the campers that evening.

In other words, you may want to spend a bit more time digging into the story than the lesson plan calls for. Also, you probably won't have time to make the puppets, so you may just want to use Bible time puppets. Consider having some youth pre-record the script, or have your oldest group visit this workshop the first week and tape-record the script for other groups to use rather than doing the puppet skit.

Note that if I were doing this lesson now, I would greatly revise the puppet script to make it more narrator driven (rather than dialog) with the puppets/puppeteers responding in a way that tells the story and digs into the meaning.




Paul: Prisoner and Letter Writer

Belonging to God; Storytelling, Puppetry and Drama Workshop


Summary of Lesson Activities:

Puppetry: each participant will make a puppet (which they may keep) for the retelling of the story of Lydia’s baptism, Paul and Silas in jail, and the jailor’s baptism.

Scripture:

Acts 16: 11-40

Lesson Objectives:

At the end of the session the children will be able to:

  • Locate Acts in the New Testament and know that it is the history of the growth of the early Church and the stories of the missionaries to the Jews and Gentiles.
  • Relate the story of Paul and Silas in prison in Phillippi.
  • Remember we can turn to God when we feel “beat up” or “chained” by life and problems.
  • Know that Paul was a missionary who wrote letters to churches in Rome, Corinth, and other places; and that some of those letters are in the Bible.
  • Know that the church still sends missionaries around the country and around the world to spread the Good News.



Props, scenery, costumes, and supplies:

  • maps of Paul’s journeys (in Good News Bible),
  • world map,
  • Presbyterian Mission Yearbook,
  • materials to make rod puppets,
  • puppet stage,
  • tape recorder
  • blank tape.
  • Books: there are picture book collections of New Testament stories available in the public library. Ask your librarian for help, or look for
    De Graaf, Anne. Paul : A Change of Heart (Outstanding Men of the Bible).
    Williams, Michael E. The Turnabout Paul Storybook.


Lesson Plan


Opening:

Open with prayer.
Read the scripture: Acts 16: 16-40
Discuss before acting out the story:
Characters: Paul, Silas, Lydia (note that a “woman who worshiped God” implies that she was a Gentile), slave girl, demon, slave owners, Roman officials, crowd, jailer, jailer’s family, other prisoners, (note that “we” in some of the verses may mean that Luke [who wrote Acts] was also present for part of this story)
Where did story take place: Phillippi
How would you feel if you were: the slave girl before and after the demon, the slave owners when their property lost its value?
Outline story highlights and how best to portray them.

Dig:

Make puppets: put faces on stick puppets. This should be a quick project, as it is a long lesson. Have as much pre-made as possible. If a puppet face comes unglued during the lesson, ask the child to set aside the part and re-glue it before the child leaves. Remind the children the puppets will need to be left alone while the glue dries (bring glue to the performance, just in case).

If time permits: (for those who finish their puppets early) look on the world map to see where there are Presbyterian missionaries. The Mission Yearbook describes the sorts of work being done in those places; discuss that work with the children. Compare the world map/where the missionaries are to the map of the places Paul visited.

Warm-up exercises:

  • As a group: pretend to be chained. Sing and pray. Earthquake! Chains drop off and you are free!
  • Take a few minutes to allow the children to get used to moving the stick puppets. Have the puppets pat their heads, wave, blow kisses, jump, hug, look sad, etc.
  • Puppets practice beating with pretend rods/being whipped (NO TOUCHING!). Take turns being the “beaters” and the “beatees.” Focus on the emotions of each.


Assign parts and act out the story. If time permits, reassign parts and act it out again. Tape the dialog, remembering to leave time for the action to take place.

(The script has some blank lines to allow the children to improvise some dialog.)

Play the tape and manipulate the puppets. If the tape is acceptable, practice several more times. If not, re-tape the dialog and try again.

SimpleRodPuppets

Reflection:

  • What is the church? (Catechism question #35: We are the church: the people who believe the good news about Jesus, who are baptized, and who share in the Lord’s Supper. Through these means of grace, the Spirit renews us so that we may serve God in love.)
  • What comfort does the good news give you? (Catechism question #36: That I belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for my sake, so that nothing will ever separate me from God’s love.)
  • Paul and Silas were whipped and thrown into jail. Yet “about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening” (Acts 16:25). I wonder what sorts of things they were asking for and thanking for in their prayers? What hymns might they have sung?
  • It’s hard to remember to pray when you have been beat up (literally or figuratively). What can we do to help us remember?
  • How do we know this good news? (Catechism question #37: Through reading the Bible and hearing it taught and preached. The Holy Spirit inspired those who wrote the Bible and helps us rely on its promises today.)
  • Paul helped spread the Good News about Jesus Christ by visiting people and writing letters. How can we share the Good News with people near and far?


Final run-through: practice again as time permits until it is a smooth production.

Closing Prayer:
Lord, help us to remember that you are with us, even when we feel really beat up by life. Help us to remember to look to you at those times. Amen.


Paul: Prisoner and Letter Writer
A Puppet Drama Script Adapted from Acts 16: 11-40, Todays English Version

As told by Luke in his letter to Theophilus from the Book of Acts 16: 11-40.

Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi

Luke: On the Sabbath, we went out of Philippi to the riverside, where we thought there would be a place where Jews gathered for prayer. We sat down and talked to the women who gathered there.

Paul: Let us tell you about Jesus. When Jesus spoke, he spoke with God’s authority. When he acted, he acted with God’s power. He amazed the people. He was also gentle and loving. He cared for us in all our needs as a shepherd cares for the sheep. [catechism # 25]

Silas: After Jesus’ work was done, he returned to heaven to prepare a place for us and to rule with God in love. He will come again in glory. He remains with us now through the gift of the Holy Spirit. [catechism # 29]

Luke: One of those who heard us was Lydia. She is a dealer in purple cloth. AND she is a woman who worships God. The Lord opened her mind to pay attention to what Paul was saying.

Paul: We are the church: the people who believe the good news about Jesus, who are baptized, and who share in the Lord’s Supper. Through these means of grace, the Spirit renews us so that we may serve God in love. [catechism #35]

Lydia: I believe Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Please baptize me!

Paul: (Baptizing Lydia) Lydia, child of God, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Luke: And so Lydia and all the people of her house were baptized in the name of Jesus that day.

Lydia: Come and stay in my house, if you have decided I am a true believer in the Lord. Please, I insist.

Luke: And so we stayed with Lydia while we were in Philippi.

Paul and Silas in Prison

One day as we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had an evil spirit. This spirit enabled her to predict the future.

Slave girl:

Luke: By telling fortunes, this girl earned a lot of money for her owners.

Slave girl:

Owner: Okay. You got your fortune. Pay me now!

Luke: She followed Paul and the rest of us, all the time shouting!

Slave girl: These men are servants of the Most High God! They announce to you how you can be saved!

Luke: She followed us like this, shouting all the time, for many days.

Slave girl: These men are servants of the Most High God! They announce to you how you can be saved!

Luke: After a while, it got to be rather annoying.

Slave girl: These men are servants of the Most High God! They announce to you how you can be saved!

Luke: Paul finally got so upset by the yelling, he spoke to the evil spirit in the girl.

Paul: In the name of Jesus Christ, I order you to come out of her!!

Luke: The spirit immediately left the girl. Well, when her owners realized their chance of making any money with this slave girl was gone, they were furious!

Owner: Why did you do this? You have ruined a valuable piece of property! I demand you be punished.

Luke: They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the authorities, the Roman officials, in the public square.

Owner: These men are Jews, and they are causing trouble in our city.

Official: What sort of trouble?

Owner: They are teaching customs that are against our law. We are Roman citizens. We cannot accept these customs or practice them.

Luke: The crowd joined the attack on Paul and Silas.

Crowd:

Official: Tear off their clothes and whip them!

Luke: After this severe beating, Paul and Silas were thrown into jail.

Official: Jailer, lock them up. Be sure you do not lose these two.

Jailer: I will put them into the inner cell and fasten their feet with heavy blocks of wood. Then they won’t go anywhere or bother anyone.

Luke: And so Paul and Silas were locked up. Well, Theophilus, you know Paul and Silas. And as you can imagine, even before the jailer had finished turning the key in the lock, they were praying and singing. And the other prisoners were listening.

Paul:

Silas:

Paul and Silas:

Luke: About midnight, there was a violent earthquake. (Noise) It shook the prison to its foundations. At once, all the doors opened. The chains fell off all the prisoners.
The Jailer woke up and when he saw the prison doors opened, he thought that all the prisoners had escaped. He pulled out his sword and was about to kill himself.

Jailer: I’m in big trouble now. The prisoners are gone. I might as well kill myself and save myself from being tortured!

Paul: (loud) Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!

Jailer: Praise God!

Luke: And the Jailer fell trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas.

Jailer: Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Silas: Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and all your family.

Luke: Silas and Paul preached the word of the Lord to the jailer and to all the others in the house.

Paul:

Silas:

Luke: At that very hour of the night the jailer took Paul and Silas and washed their wounds. Then he and his family were baptized all at once.

Silas: Jailer, child of God, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Luke: The jailer took Paul and Silas to his house and gave them some food to eat. He and his family were filled with joy because they now believed in God.

Jailer:

Luke: The next day they heard from the Roman officials again.

Official: Let those men go.

Jailer: Paul and Silas, the officials have sent an order for you to be released. You may leave. And go in peace!

Paul:

Silas:

Luke: Paul and Silas left the prison and went to Lydia’s house. There they met the believers and spoke words of encouragement to them.

Lydia: Oh, Paul and Silas, we are so glad to see you! We were so worried. We have been praying that God would be with you. Please tell us what happened.

Silas: While we were in prison, I remembered that I belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for my sake, so that nothing will ever separate me from God’s love. [catechism # 36]

Luke: Paul and Silas then continued on their journey. They traveled to Thessalonica, where they continued to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

How do we know this good news? [Catechism question #37]
Through reading the Bible and hearing it taught and preached. The Holy Spirit inspired those who wrote the Bible and helps us rely on its promises today.




Resources: the Presbyterian Church (USA) Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study (available from the Presbyterian Church (USA), 502-569-5191). Familiarize yourself with this wonderful resource that tells about the work in each mission field served by Presbyterians and also about the work of individual Presbyteries. http://www.pcusa.org/missionyearbook/
Belonging to God: A First Catechism, PCUSA. https://www.presbyterianmissio...god-first-catechism/


A lesson by Amy Crane

Copyright 2000 Amy Crane. Permission granted to freely distribute and use, provided the copyright message is included.

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability

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